Tuesday, April 26, 2016

500th Post Celebration & Giveaway

Yes, I'm this excited!
Hi Readers! I'm so excited that I've reached yet another milestone in my blog-life. 500 posts! That's a lot! Okay, not if you are a professional blogger, but I'm not. . . I'm me, who once thought about becoming a pro, but then stopped when I couldn't come up with $-worthy content.

I have no idea how many of you are still with me after nearly 7 years of blogging, but I thank each of you for stopping by every once in awhile and catching up with my life! And as a thank you, I'd like to do another giveaway!

A year ago, I heard a song by JJ Heller called "This Year" and I fell in love with it. It turns out that her latest album is completely awesome and I love it -- and her. So, although she doesn't know who I am or know about this giveaway, I'd like to send the lucky winner her latest CD "Sound of a Living Heart." You can preview the album here.

How to enter:
To enter, please leave a comment on this blog post below. The giveaway ends May 3rd at midnight PST. I'm using Rafflecopter again to choose the winner (so make sure you log in with that too!) and will contact the winner and announce it here on my blog on May 4th.

Thanks so much for reading my blog and caring about my life.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 18, 2016

Baby B2: 33 Weeks

How far along: 33 weeks

How big is the baby: approx 17 inches long and 5 pounds (from the internet)

Sleep: This continues to be hit or miss. Some nights I'm sleeping great but William isn't and so I'm up early with him, other times he sleeps great and I can't find a comfortable position. I have a hard time moving around in bed with my low back pain/large belly.

Best moment of the week: William wanting to hug the baby/my belly and pretending to be the ultrasound tech applying gel to my stomach so he can see the baby (he had to come with me last time)

Worst thing: The worst thing continues to be my back pain, which I don't think is even pregnancy related.

Symptoms: I've actually had more nausea this week than I've had in the past few months. It's strange. My legs are also looking a bit bigger, ankles may beginning to swell a tiny bit, large belly. My energy has been up a little so that helps.

Movement: Yes, most definitely. Sometimes I wonder how other people don't notice it!

What I miss: the same stuff - wine, deli meat, bending over without grunting

Food Cravings: less cereal recently. Now it's ice cream and chocolate. . . chocolate ice cream. However I can get it.

Food Aversions: Nothing at the moment

Maternity Clothes: Yes, all the time. I can still make a few non-maternity tops and yoga pants work. My jacket and sweatshirts are starting to get a little tight.

Things People Say: I get more comments/questions about the gender of my baby. We aren't finding out until baby comes. I'm hearing some guesses around the office. . . half will be right I suppose. Last time we assumed we were having a boy because the two pregnancies in our circle of friends were having boys and we had noticed a trend of them coming in groups of three. This time, there are baby girls coming on either side of us! We'll see if the trend continues!

Exercise: Giving up. Not on purpose, just lack of time/interest at this point. Still walk when I can and do my PT when I remember.
Last Appointment: April 6. Met with the same midwife as my previous visit but this time she seemed completely exhausted and unfamiliar with me. Its a little frustrating that I have to explain certain things during every visit, but understandable; these people see a hundred patients a week. Everything looks fine, heart beat is always fun to hear.

Next Appointment: April 25

The perfect "hiding spot" for hide-and-seek!

P.S. The font colors are out of control. Blogger is messing with me and I can't change them (trust me, I've tried!) Sorry for the craziness.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

2016 Reading Log: Part 1

I feel like I've been reading a ton in my spare time lately, mostly in preparation for the birth of our second child but I've gotten in some novels too! And in hopes of not forgetting what I've read, here's the list and a few thoughts I've had:

Birthing Books:
Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher
I wanted to learn more about hypnobirthing because I don't do visualization very well and I've heard it can be very helpful with labor. She has a few tracks on her website to listen to, which I did a few times. I just can't seem to get into them enough to really feel like I'm relaxed. I did like a few of ideas like using words of affirmation to motivate and relax and also having a catch-phrase to use to bring you back into focus.

The Best Birth by Sarah McMoyler
She shares her own McMoyler method based on her years as a labor and delivery nurse. She's a strong advocate for the husbands to be the support person and using the breaks in between contractions to relax, breathe and focus. She's not against pain medication and speaks loudly about the best birth being one that both baby and mother get through in good health. Which I agree with! But also still have high hopes of not needing certain interventions. It's still hard for me to get over the problems I had with my post-delivery and needing a blood transfusion. We're using a lot of her suggestions for positioning and getting Chris involved in helping me cope with the pain.

Birthing From Within by Pam England
I wanted to love this book as it talked a lot about the inner thoughts of a woman going into the birthing process and becoming a mother. It talked about getting over certain fears we have about labor that I thought would be really helpful for me. But I couldn't finish it. I could barely skim it and be interested. It talked a lot about the need for art and self reflection - which I don't want to ignore, I just couldn't get myself into that mood.

Breastfeeding Books:
The ABCs of Breastfeeding by Stacy Rubin
Many of you know I struggled with nursing William. I wanted so desperately to make that work and did try for 13 months, but we had to supplement with formula the entire time. I read this book shortly after finding out I was pregnant in hopes of understanding exactly what I should have done and can do this time around to make it more successful. After reading it, I think I did nearly everything I could have done, it was just the circumstances of my delivery that caused such trouble. I'm planning to meet with a lactation counselor in the next few weeks to talk over some things in hopes of being even more prepared.

The Everything Breastfeeding Book by Suzanne Fredregill
I don't think I finished this book either. It seemed to be things I already knew or had tried. It did offer a nice overview of the facts of nursing and how your body actually functions in that arena.

Parenting Two Kids 
Welcoming Your Second Baby by Vicki Lansky
This book was very small, and written a long time ago. It had some good ideas about how to talk about the baby with your older child and things to plan for - like making time for one-on-one time with your first born, and when the older one comes to the hospital, not having the baby in your arms can be helpful. They really coming to check on mommy, not the baby.  It was written in a quick bullet point format which was helpful.

Siblings Withouth Rivalry by Adele Faber
I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone having more than one child. Actually, I found it helpful in handling just one child already! Its written in the format of sharing a her experience leading a class, which is a unique way of writing, but it worked for this material. She gave a lot of great tips and exercises to try!

Reading for Fun 
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book was recommended from a friend. I have to admit it was a serious eye opener. Regretfully I didn't finish it before it was due back at the library but hope to check it out again soon to finish it. Chris had I had just finished "Making of a Murderer" on Netflix and this was right along the same lines. Injustices happening within the Justice system. I'm a little ashamed that I had no idea so many innocent people are sent to prison -- even death row -- without fair trials. I would strongly recommend this book!

Small Victories by Anne Lamott
I'm a new reader of Anne Lamott, I was reminded again today just how long she's been a presence in the Christian community, but I had no clue who she was until just this year. This was an easy read, giving deep thoughts to what seemed like random events in her life. I liked the subtitle of her book a lot: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. I've been trying to find the good in everyday moments lately and this was right along that line. She's been through a lot of hard things and I love her reflections on them. Honest. Beautiful.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
This novel broke my heart. Its a story of an Irish immigrant coming to America, being orphaned after a home fire, being put on an orphan train to the midwest, aging out of the foster child system without ever really feeling like she had a true home. Another young girl in the foster care system lands on her doorstep decades later and the two of them become friends. Its a lovely, but painful story. I had to remind myself over and over again that this was not a true story (although I imagine it could easily have been for many children.) Definitely recommend this one!

Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey
I'm a sucker for the old fashioned romances/rugged outback Christian novels. They all end up the same but I still can't seem to put them down. This novel takes place in 1866 in Missouri with the war just coming to an end and Faith Lindberg having lost her brother and father in battle. She is given control of her grandfather's store and catches the eye of a few soldiers who were lucky to return home. A few twists, a few frustrating moments, but like I said, I'm a sucker.

Swept Away by Mary Connealy
This novel is much in the same vein as Where the Wildflowers Bloom, with a flair of outlaw/corrupt wild west. There's the good guy, the bad guys, and a few women standing in the middle. Kept my interest as most of these books do.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Baby B2: 31 Weeks

How far along: 31 weeks. Just 9 more to go before I get to meet this little person!

How big is the baby: about 4 pound and 16 inches (from head to toe). 

Sleep: Still a struggle, but last week I started doing my physical therapy exercises before bed as well as some deep breathing and I have been sleeping much better. Allowing myself more time to wind down is helpful.

Best moment of the week: Chis returned from his Europe trip and we toured our hospital this last weekend. We went out for a lunch date afterwards and I really enjoyed our morning together and glad we had time to talk about baby things. William is showing a lot more interest in the baby too! He wants to hug my belly and talk to my belly button.

Worst thing: Stiffness, low-back pain. I had a little scare two weeks ago when I thought I was leaking fluid. After several tests and an ultrasound, baby is just fine and so am I. I think I was a little "too cautious" and the doctor looked at me like I was a little crazy, but glad it's all okay.

Symptoms: Growing belly! Starting the pregnancy-waddle. Grunting when I have to bend down or stand up. Hungry all of the time and tired.

Movement: Yes, yes, yes. All day long. Sometimes I get a sharp jab on my side or pelvis that makes me yelp, but overall thankful for the movement. I think I can visibly see movement a lot more during this pregnancy.

What I miss: Missing the normal stuff -- wine, lunch meat, being flexible

Food Cravings: Cereal . . . multiple bowls a day. And chocolate. Easter candy was hard to stay away from. I try eating veggies and fruit most of the day, but these cravings don't go away.

Food Aversions: Healthy food -- sorry baby.

Maternity Clothes: Yes. Pants are annoying and I may try wearing skirts/dresses more often. The belly bands never stay up for me and if they do, I get super hot. 

Things People Say: Not too much lately. Someone mentioned that I "Popped out all of a sudden" which is true. I even catch glimpses in the mirror and surprise myself. 

Exercise: Walks, physical therapy (core strength) and stretching.
Last Appointment: I haven't been to an appointment since March 9, other than my check-in regarding the fluid/discharge. Everything looks good!

Next Appointment: This week - April 6

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Celebrating Resurrection Day

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Chris was out of town during Easter weekend, so I asked a couple of friends if we could get together for dinner and a playdate on Easter Sunday. I really didn't want it to feel like an ordinary day for either one of us. Easter has always been one of my favorite celebrations.

My friend Kate has a backyard so I threw out the idea of having an egg hunt at her place and she was all for it. We invited a few more people and had a great afternoon together.

The egg hunt was a blast for everyone. I had filled plastic eggs with random things like pom-poms, stickers, rings, necklaces, and snacks of crackers, nuts, and dried fruit (all wrapped). I had purchased a few other things to go in the eggs but I hadn't realized how small those eggs really were! Filling them was more challenging than I had thought it would be.

Kate had also planned an indoor activity which was great since the day had turned chilly. Decorating hard boiled eggs with stickers and paint! William is a neat painter, never liking to get paint on himself. His friend Eleanore on the other hand, loves to get paint everywhere!

After a delicious meal of steak, hamburgers, hotdogs, and amazing salads we broke out the dessert. Rice Crispy Eggs for the kids and chocolate pie and ice cream for the adults, which were my contributions to the meal. 

It was a lovely afternoon with great friends. I was so thankful it turned out so well.

Earlier in the day, we attended church. They didn't have the nursery open so William joined me for the service. He sat well for the music, but once the sermon started, he was no longer interested. (I joked that if the pastor had sung the message, we would have been just fine). We were in and out a few times after that. The church staff had put together little activity baskets for the kids which was super sweet and helpful.

They also had an egg hunt after the service for the kids which looked really fun. He found a couple of eggs and then we headed home for nap time. . . which didn't end up happening. He had been so tired in the morning that I had him lay down for 30 minutes before church. I had no idea he would actually fall asleep and cut out the afternoon nap! That part made the afternoon a little more interesting!

Overall, it was a great day. Thanks to Grandma, he had a full Easter basket and we had fun doing the resurrection eggs I had made a few days before.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Toddler Boy: Two and a Half Years Old

Today is William's half birthday! Can you believe my little guy is 2 1/2 already? I can't, although sometimes I have to remind myself that he is only 2 1/2! He's such a tall guy and talks all of the time, sometimes I think he seems older.

I don't have any real measurements to report as he won't go in for a check up until his birthday. But according to my motherly instincts he is almost 36" tall and just over 30 lbs. He's still tall and thin, but has filled out some too, only when he takes off his shirt and shows you his nipples (which is a daily occurrence) do I notice his slim build. We recently brought out the 3T shirts as his 2T long sleeves don't look so long anymore. The 3T pants will have to wait just a bit.

His vocabulary is really something! He can say just about anything and picks up everything we say. He has a slight stutter when he starts telling me something, but I'm not concerned at the moment. I think he's usually so excited he just can't find the words fast enough. He also doesn't say the "S" sound in words like "spoon" or "sparkle" or "snake" so those take me a moment to catch sometimes. We're working on phrases like "Can I please have ___" and asking for things politely instead of demanding or whining for them. He's starting to understand the question "why?" even though he doesn't always know how to answer it.

Over the last three months he has made a few big-boy advances. We started potty training in January and he is now only wearing (disposable) diapers for nap and bedtime. He usually makes it through his nap with a dry diaper. Having him in underwear has really freed up my time with laundry. I had been washing cloth diapers three times a week! And I love that I'll get a full six months of not doing diaper laundry before the new baby comes.

We also introduced the big-boy bed in early February. He was really excited about it and loved shopping for one. We just have a mattress on the floor for now, which allows him to crawl in and out without too much effort or risk of falling. He has figured out that he can get out of his bed on his own and even figured out how to open the bedroom door in the last month so staying in bed through the night has been our newest challenge. He usually does fairly well, getting up just a few times a week.

William still loves reading. We read all of the time and go to the library's story time each week and come home with new books to read and re-read. His favorite subjects are construction and animals. I've learned a lot about the construction field in the past six months.

He loves music. The music time at children's church tends to be his favorite Sunday activity. He sings the songs all week long and we've even created his own playlist on our phones. I've got the Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart, Deep and Wide, and Jesus Loves Me are some of his top hits. He received a guitar for Christmas this year and loves to play for anyone who comes to visit.

His friend has a piano that must be played at each visit.

William's favorite activity for the past year as been watching construction. We've sat in front of many diggers and dump trucks over the past few months. I've learned to bring a book along and relax a bit. We've added quite a few construction toys to his box as well, but we still just play with the same two diggers and dump truck every morning. We pretend to pick up dirt or rocks; and mom's digger never gets to take a break.

Chris has started showing William his tools, as he fixes his truck or other things around the house. Now William will request to look at daddy's tools, just for fun. He can tell the difference between a philips and flathead screwdriver and can distinguish between small, medium, and large (or big). He played "changing the battery" on his toy for nearly 30 minutes one day! Just wait until he gets his own set . . . btw at what age is that a good idea?

Dinosaurs also have a place in his heart and even more so now as that is what dad brought home from the Netherlands for him! He loves "cooking" in the play kitchens other people have and loves his play food too. I've had him help me a lot more in the kitchen lately. He often requests to do the dishes, which I'd love if he really cleaned them! Its more or less water play, which I should be fine with . . . but we are still in a drought.

Drought yes, but we still had enough rain to wear boots this year!

William still has moments of frustration or sudden sadness where he yells or cries or both. We've started working on words to use to describe the feelings which has been really helpful for me to figure out what he needs from me. Sometimes "I just need to hug mommy" is enough to relieve his pain. Lately, we've had issues of him being more physical with other children-- taking toys and hitting. Sometimes just to get the attention of an adult, other times for no apparent reason. This really caught me off guard as up until then, he was usually very sweet and mild tempered. We're working through each situation with a time-out/separation from the person or toy involved. That seems to be enough to calm him down (for now).

So many changes have happened since he turned 2, and many more changes are on the way. Just 8 weeks left until he knows what being a big brother really means! I'm so thankful for the growth that has happened in the past six months and the glimpses I get of who this boy really is!